By TOM HAYS Associated Press
The family of a diamond dealer killed by a pair of crooked New York Police Department detectives — known as the Mafia Cops for moonlighting as hit men for the mob — has won a $5 million settlement in a wrongful-death lawsuit.
Lawyers for the family of Israel Greenwald announced the settlement on Thursday in one of the most notorious police corruption cases in city history.
The family sued the city in 2006 after Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa were arrested in Las Vegas, where they had retired, and convicted of murder and other crimes.
At a 2006 trial in federal court in Brooklyn, prosecutors accused the pair of being involved in the contract killings of eight people between 1986 and 1990 while on the payroll of a Luchese organized crime family underboss. While some of the victims were criminals, Greenwald was targeted in 1986 because the mob believed he was cooperating with the FBI.
There was evidence that Eppolito, who played a bit part in the classic mob movie “GoodFellas,” and Caracappa kidnapped Greenwald, stopping his car and taking him to a parking garage, where he was shot in the head and buried. His body wasn’t recovered until 2005.
“Losing a father at a young age is tragic,” Greenwald’s daughters, who were ages 9 and 7 at the time of his death, said in a statement on Thursday. “Losing a father in this manner, where he disappeared one day into thin air never to return, where there was no grave and no closure, is nothing short of horrific.”
Eppolito, whose father was a member of the Gambino crime family, wrote an autobiography, “Mafia Cop,” about his life as a police officer growing up in a mob family.
Plaintiff attorney Ben Brafman said that in 1985 before the killing rampage began, NYPD commanders had “clear, overwhelming evidence that Eppolito had fed Mafia bosses classified information.” But after a disciplinary hearing, the officer was restored to full duty, the lawyer said.
A city Law Department spokesman said the deal with Greenwald’s family was “in the best interest of the city.”
In 2010, the city paid $9.9 million to a man who spent 19 years behind bars after new evidence surfaced that Eppolito and Caracappa had framed him in the slaying of a prostitute.
Eppolito, 67, and Caracappa, 73, are serving life behind bars. At sentencing, they insisted they were railroaded.